From opera student to Jeanie in "Hair" to big-band singer. How did Deater O'Neill get from there to here?

"I was one of 6,000 people who auditioned for 'Hair' in Chicago in 1969," she recalls, "and when I got a part I dropped out of college and went on the road with the production for 18 months. But becoming a big-band singer really happened by chance -- a question of being in the right place at the right time. I was back to pursuing my opera career in a sort of haphazard fashion when I heard that a local club needed a pop singer. The audition was a drag since the piano player couldn't play in the right keys and my husband and I ended up in a pub up the street where they had this 17-piece swing-era band stuffed into a corner playing their hearts out. 'Fantastic!' I said, and offered to be their vocalist. And I've been with them for almost a year now."

Every Sunday night O'Neill sings '40s classics like "Sentimental Journey" and "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good" with the Starlight Orchestra in Rosslyn's Top O' The Town. "People are always asking me who I'm trying to be -- Helen Forrest, Anita O'Day, Ella Fitzgerald?" she says. "But I'm really just trying to be myself." --